According to a study, COVID-19 positive outpatients are at much increased risk of neurodegenerative disorders compared to those who tested negative for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The researchers found that those who tested positive for COVID-19 had a much higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and ischemic stroke.
The study, presented on Sunday at the 8th Congress of the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) in Vienna, Austria, analyzed the health records of more than half of the Danish population.
Of 919,731 people tested for COVID-19 in the study, researchers found that the 43,375 people who tested positive had a 3.5 times higher risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
They also had a 2.6 times higher risk of being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, 2.7 times with ischemic stroke and 4.8 times with intracerebral hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain).
While neuroinflammation may contribute to the accelerated development of neurodegenerative disorders, researchers have also highlighted the implications of scientific guidance on long COVID.
The study analyzed inpatients and outpatients in Denmark between February 2020 and November 2021, as well as influenza patients from the corresponding pre-pandemic period.
The researchers used statistical techniques to calculate the relative risk, and the results were stratified by hospitalization status, age, sex and comorbidities.
”More than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the precise nature and course of the effects of COVID-19 on neurological disorders have remained uncharacterised,” Pardis Zarifkar, lead author from the Department of Neurology , Rigshospitalet, Denmark , explained.
“Previous studies have established an association with neurological syndromes, but so far it is unclear whether COVID-19 also influences the incidence of specific neurological diseases and whether it differs from other respiratory infections,” said said Zarifkar.
The increased risk of most neurological diseases, however, was no higher in COVID-19 positive patients than in people diagnosed with influenza or other respiratory illnesses.
COVID-19 patients had a 1.7 times higher risk of ischemic stroke compared to influenza and bacterial pneumonia in patients over 80.
The frequency of other neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Guillain-Barré syndrome, myasthenia gravis and narcolepsy did not increase after COVID-19, influenza or pneumonia.
“We found support for an increased risk of being diagnosed with neurodegenerative and cerebrovascular disorders in COVID-19 positive patients compared to COVID-negative patients, which needs to be confirmed or refuted by large registry studies in the future. close,” added Zarifkar.
“Reassuringly, aside from ischemic stroke, most neurological disorders do not appear to be more common after COVID-19 than after influenza or community-acquired bacterial pneumonia,” he said.
The findings will help inform our understanding of the long-term effect of COVID-19 on the body and the role infections play in neurodegenerative diseases and strokes, the researchers added.
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